A few weeks ago, Part 1 of the National Food Strategy (NFS) was released. Rebecca Laughton, a grower and campaigns coordinator for Landworkers Alliance, and co-author of the Peoples’ Food Policy is on the advisory panel. However, she was not allowed to share the report with us for comment in advance of its release, nor was she given time to discuss and debate the content, as would be expected of an Advisory Panel.The need for a National Food Strategy is pressing. A NFS should be a collectively determined vision and set of policies designed to get there. It should be drawn from the lived experiences of a cross section of civil society. When compared to the People’s Food Policy, produced by LWA in collaboration with many other unions, organisations and NGOs on a limited budget, the democratic mandate, vision and strength of proposals is disappointing. As it stands the NFS is not a strategy; it’s a synthesis of information collected by Henry Dimbleby – an entrepreneur who owns LEON’s restaurants. He has met with a wide range of people and read a huge array of documents, but we’ve ended up with an essay of Henry’s thoughts on the food system, rather than a democratic roadmap for our food system.
Reclaiming our food system
The report begins with a damning critique of the health impacts of the industrial food system and makes some brave recommendations to a government that has historically left food to the market. It states that “The single most important force that shapes our food environment is the free market,” and makes the case for intervention to correct market failures. It calls for regulation to protect public health, defends taxation (the sugar tax) and other interventions.
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